House Approves Shimkus Bill to Allow VA–DACC Land Swap
WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) was approved by the House of Representatives today. The bill, H.R. 3262, would allow for a mutually beneficial land swap between the Department of Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System and Danville Area Community College.
A transcript of the congressman’s speech, as prepared for delivery in support of the legislation, is below:
"Mister Speaker, I rise today in support of my bill, H.R. 3262. This simple, common-sense bill benefits both the VA and my constituents in Danville, Illinois.
"Danville, Illinois is a small town that has been home to some big names. Dick Van Dyke called Danville home in his childhood. Speaker Joe Cannon, a name we all know in Congress, was from Danville. Today, Danville is home to the VA Illiana Health Care System and Danville Area Community College (DACC).
"DACC’s president, Dr. Alice Jacobs, is an exceptional leader who has dedicated 45 years to higher education, including the last 16 years leading DACC. She has recently announced her retirement in the coming year and I thank her for her dedicated service to students and the community of Danville and wish her the best in the future.
"The VA and DACC are an excellent example of how two institutions can work in cooperation to serve our veterans. The location of the VA hospital adjacent to the community college campus allows our veterans returning home to seek their medical care and help with benefits, while the college provides the opportunity for educational and training experiences that can help them transition into civilian life.
"However, when the property lines were drawn between these two fine institutions, it wasn’t in a straight line. Today that has created a challenge as the VA explores the option of building a security fence along its boundary. Building that fence along the existing property lines will be more expensive. My bill, H.R. 3262, solves this problem by swapping two small parcels of land that both the VA and DACC have agreed to, creating a straight fence line.
"Swapping these parcels is beneficial for the local community, as well. In exchange for the land it gives up, DACC will receive a parcel of land with a historic, century-old Carnegie Library. This building has become so deteriorated and expensive to maintain that the VA has stopped using it. Now the building sits vacant while the VA still pays for basic maintenance and utilities. In its testimony to the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Health Subcommittee, the VA stated that disposing of this building would save an estimated $98,000 over the next 10 years.
"Danville and DACC see great potential for the building. Through the generosity of a private donor, DACC plans to transform the old library into a cultural center, providing a local treasure. Swapping these parcels of land is a win for the VA, saving money on the construction of the fence and maintenance of an unused building, and a win for Danville, providing the community with a historically significant location to host a valuable cultural attraction.
"H.R. 3262 is a simple, win-win bill for all parties involved.
"Mister Speaker, I would like to thank Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Brown for their support moving this bill forward, along with the VA Committee staff for their work in getting the bill to the floor. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 3262, and I yield back the balance of my time."